SGA holds first meeting with Student Health and Wellness Advisory Board, discusses departmental changes made over summer

Fri, 2017/09/08
Ethan Castro

Located on the third floor of the IIT Tower, at the southern edge of campus, is the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC). This department is the primary on campus medical service offered by the university, with a host of health, advocacy, and wellness programs available for the students. In addition to its regular services, the SHWC has also been pursuing a connection to the student body through a partnership with the Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) known as the Student Health and Wellness Advisory Board (SHWAB). This student body, a project initiated by an SGA senator last academic year, is meant to give Illinois Tech students a direct and consistent forum in which they can air their concerns and grievances directly to the administration of the SHWC.

The first such meeting of the SHWAB occurred on Friday, September 1 with students Ethan Castro (an SGA Senator) and Madelyn Walsh, as well as Christine Reh and Melody McCray from the SHWC. Formative in nature, this meeting was meant to establish the direction and goals of the advisory board for the next academic semester. It was agreed upon by all present that the board would continue to meet once every month to bring student concerns to the administration of the SHWC. Castro stated that he would take the initiative to get other campus organizations to send representatives to the meeting to have their interests present.

Other initiatives brought up for consideration included expanding the SHWC’s presence at summer orientation sessions, at Welcome Week, and throughout the school year. The creation of an introductory video for the department to be played during the introduction of new students as well as increased use of statements from current students about their experiences at the SHWC are just two examples of this increased presence.

In terms of increasing SHWC visibility during the school year, the department has officially used this semester to relaunch its group therapy programs. For example, the recent decision by the United States President Donald Trump to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order, introduced under the prior administration of Barack Obama, prompted the SHWC to hold a drop-in group therapy session for students who were seeking a safe space to process and discuss the announcement. Such sessions will continue to be held throughout the academic year for various other topics of mental health under the name of “Us, Them, & You.”

The SHWC is also reviving its social media presence, including its Instagram page (SHWC_IIT) and Twitter account (@IITSHWC). These are further examples of the SHWCs' efforts to increase its visibility and outreach to the student body, in addition to the SHWAB. Students may have also noticed the department’s Ribbon Project with the hashtag “#stopthestigma.” These ribbons have been traveling around the campus (including outside The Commons in the MTCC and at the SHWC). Different color ribbons reflect different mental health issues, and students are encouraged (but by no means mandated) to tie these ribbons in honor of themselves or loved ones afflicted with these issues.

Finally, the SHWC is hosting two different Freshman 15 events: “Transitioning to Illinois Tech” on September 19 and “Creating Your Healthy Nest” on November 2. More information about these events will be available as they approach.